But a Seek-no-further, which bears several barrels of early apples that are very good eating, is not easily to be sacrificed, even to the demands of a landscape, to which it is also advantageous from its height and mass, that could not be reproduced by any tree planted in our day, unless, indeed, we had the purse of Miss Catherine Wolfe to spend thousands in moving giants. If it could be had for the asking, I think I should choose a low, wide-spreading Oak rather than a stately Elm, or possibly the view might be improved if we had no tree at all, but that effect we have from an upper window, which may have its balcony some day.
A whirlwind swept up the valley on the twelfth of August, and very nearly settled the question for us by making a clean sweep, but, luckily, contented itself with two or three great boughs full of apples, which are left hanging now by a slip of bark, in hopes that they may get sap enough through this narrow channel to ripen, but it looks doubtful.
The same storm made havoc in the garden with such tall Hollyhocks and Poppies as had carelessly been left untied, and then whisked a branch from off our great Elm, and split in two a large Swamp Maple on the other side of the street. A five-minute tornado it was, with pouring flood that swept the main street of the village, and littered it with fallen trunks and limbs twisted off in its whirling flight. As brief, but more violent a gale I have seen in Maine, cutting a forest into windrows, as a mower would cut grass with his scythe.
To make a landscape garden one must live with it and study it, putting in a touch here and there, as the painter treats his canvas, now effacing a spot, again adding an accent, blending, harmonizing, even destroying, if need be, and beginning once more. Advice you may listen to, but be not over-hasty to accept suggestion. Weigh each idea well before you admit it, look at it from all sides, for it will always have more than one. It is you who will have to live with the picture, and it is your mind that should lend the individuality that will make the scene your own. It is, after all, the personal touch that is worth while.
A fair woman, who is a summer neighbor of ours, took me the other day through interesting grounds, which her own taste and care had brought into a wild and yet controlled beauty. Boulders draped with vines, and shrubberies of native growth, lined the long avenue that wound up a wooded and rocky hillside to a home which overlooks Massachusetts Bay. But the finest feature of the commanding prospect was a glimpse of the rounded hills and silver-shining water of Hingham Harbor, toward which the eye was led over miles of treetops. Just in front was a lawn of perfect turf, golden-green in the low sunlight, and a little way off, against the blue dome of sky, stood up some heavy Cedars, their black masses of foliage giving just the required force of accent to the foreground, throwing far away into the remotest distance the lovely outline of the Blue Hills of Milton.
Such a picture one cannot forget, intelligence and taste have added to it the last refining touch. Remoteness is here, and sylvan wildness, contrasted with the gentle charm of well-swept turf, and skillfully subordinated groups of flowering shrubs and plants, that complete, but form no jarring note in the beautiful scene. To me it seemed perfection, but with the eye of the true artist who loves his work, my hostess noted a ledge here, an obtrusive Oak-top there, which, to her fastidious taste, seemed to intrude. For the true lover of nature works forever at his picture, ever sensitive to a new charm, watchful for a fresh effect, rejoicing in each change, painting with a palette of the great Mother's blending, on a canvas of her own contriving, with an impressionism that cannot falsify, and a detail that is never intrusive. In this great school one learns breadth without vagueness, intensity without violence, arid softness that cannot be effeminate. The value of atmosphere, the glory of the sky, can never be out of key with the picture, and the "seeing eye," by careful study and patient waiting, can here evolve ideal beauty from material form.